Case Study: Kapost
B2B Marketing Platform
Kapost is the only solution purpose-built for managing every aspect of the B2B content lifecycle. We provide modern software and services for getting your marketing content done and out the door. Employing easy-to-use calendaring, collaboration tools, workflows, content libraries, in-depth insights and the most robust set of integrations, we simplify the management of each step in your content lifecycle. Marketers need to evolve beyond the chaos of spreadsheets, documents and digging through emails. They need a Content Marketing Operating System for today’s challenges.
A Marketing Operating System is a software solution for aligning an entire organization to the same strategy, using the same core content material, ensuring the consistent execution of the strategy, and creating a unified customer experience. Through centralized planning and the reuse and reworking of large content assets like eBooks, content is created more strategically, resulting in more efficient production and less content waste.
Of Course ‘Best in B2B Content Marketing’ takes more than just software alone! Marketers recognize the great challenge of their time is to deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time. The digital era has empowered buyers, and vendors must respond with a customer experience that is always delivering an optimally tailored message. Marketers look to create messages across multiple dimensions depicting who the customer is and where they are on their journey. Since the earliest days of advertising and marketing, businesses have used information assets—i.e. content—to communicate value between buyers and sellers. But there were fewer communication channels before the Internet, which meant less content was produced and at a much slower pace. With the rise of digital over the past decade, marketing has become more complex. The B2B marketing landscape has shifted from what was formerly a single-channel, sales-focused approach to what is now multi-channel, content-driven marketing. With teams using varying tools to publish different content to multiple channels, even just managing the content takes more time and energy than the actual marketing work itself.
Content. It’s the topic of the era. SiriusDecisions calls it the lifeblood of modern B2B marketing; Accenture Digital argues it’s a marketer’s most vital natural resource—“as essential as water.” While the critical importance of content is undoubtable, without a process to manage, content (and the marketing organization itself) quickly becomes chaotic and ineffective. Under the integrated marketing model, all functions and teams align to a common central strategy created by the marketing leadership team. In alignment with this common strategy, core content material is created, usually a large asset like an eBook, which teams can then draw from to support their own initiatives.
Understanding the end-user's desires is crucial to the success of the user experience. Good design comes out of empathy. While "We are not our users", we still need to constantly learn more about the people who use the products we build. At Kapost our main personas worked in the Marketing Departmeent. Only a few users fell outside of the Marketing team, and often used our platform in a "reviewer" capacity. The images you see below are composites of our ideal customer profiles. We used stock photography to round out the profiles. Once these were completed by the design team we shared these throughout Kapost so that all departments could rally around a better understanding of our prospects abd customers. Within the Engineering, Product, and Design organization it became a north star or compass for our work. e.g. "How do we think a Project Manager will want to view and manage their initiatives, we know they are strapped for time and just need it to work."
We were lucky enough to visit our customers on-site for user interviews and usability sessions. In these photos from visits to Chicago and Milwaukee we are running a design sprint user interview sessions. We went through a full schedule of interview questions and ended with a card sort exercise. Participants were asked to stack rank our product road map of features so we could get direct input from our user base on what we should build next.
Back in the home office in Boulder, Colorado we regularly checked in with our user feedback cohort made up of eight diverse customers. Once a month we would collect their inputon our work and use trello as a way to capture and compare against other customer inputs. This was critical in our work to insure we were building desireable software.
We knew our platform needed some work. Once all the feedback was consilidated we started annotating areas we knew we would want to change in our user experience right away. For instance our Iniatives list view had received a lot of input in various areas on how it could better serve our users. See some of the feedback collected below.
In order to use new tactics, tools, and channels to efficiently execute a marketing strategy, a system to manage the content lifecycle and coordinate across teams is essential. Without it, there is no foundation for success. Marketing organizations can no longer ignore the operational foundation required to manage the complexity of using content in the digital era. They must develop and document a process for managing and coordinating content across tools, channels, and teams in order to succeed. Research shows that consistency across content is the key to an effective customer experience—and that inefficient internal processes is the number one barrier to delivering consistency.
This meant we needed to break apart our monolithic platform with 87 features into four new web apps. Those apps were Canvas, Studio, Gallery, and Insights. And in turn these four cogs on the wheel mapped to our personas' desires to align, execute, distribute, and analyze their work — all from within the Kapost B2B Marketing Platform.
Once the decision was made to break apart the platform into four specific areas the work mostly fell into place. We had four cross-functional teams of Designers, Engineers, and Product working toward a re-launch of the platform in a way that would make a lot more sense to our end users. As always our designers started in low fidelity as they worked with internal and external feedback against their wireframe sketches. Many of the designs fluctuated in this period and helped us understand where our PRD documentation was falling short. Putting real world examples into these wireframes ultimately saved us a lot of time later on.
Now that the content was set and the information architecture validated through wireframes and user feedback we were able to move into the final design stage with high fidelity mockups. As designers we met weekly to check-in on our work and keep our brand style consistent. Going from low to high fidelity was easy because we had a unified approach with our forthcoming design system.
Running in parallel to our Canvas, Studio, Gallery, and Insights app work was another cross-functional team whose responsibility was to build out a unified design system that can be building blocks across all our engineering teams. We started with some competitive analysis looking at other larger companies design systems. Ultimately we decided to fork a version of Google Material aesthetic and get to work making it our own. Once completed the benefits were apparent to see. Even new experimentation features looked and felt polished. The ease of access internally and externally being easily digestible were well worth the investment into our own design system for the Kapost platform.
We upgraded our customer experience by breaking down our debt accrued over the years. As a growth company we needed to act fast and provide value to retain and gain new customers. Our four new apps Canvas, Studio, Gallery, and Insights were launched and well received by Kapost customers. It was all thanks to our users' feedback that we were able to detect areas for improvement and act upon them.